Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fall band concerts

We went to 'em; here are a few highlights:

SMS Symphonic Band

Los Altos Community Jazz Band

Nimue quite likes the jazz band -- between her liking the music, having a disciplined but fun director, and liking the other middle school kids who participate, Wednesday afternoon rehearsals have been a high point to most of her weeks.

And of course, there is the silliness of Jingle Squid.

Friday, December 5, 2014


The plan:  Go camping at Arroyo Seco with friends; spit-roast the turkey and enjoy outdoor festivities.

Step1:  Pre-bard and season the bird.

Step 2: Realize that all of Los Padres National Forest is still under stage 4 fire restrictions.  Translation: NO FIRES ALLOWED, even in the campgroud fire pits.  How is one supposed to spit-roast????

Step 3: Curse. (not pictured)

Step 4: Improvise a fire pit in the front courtyard with some old bricks. (These are the bricks a neighbor was getting rid of several years back, originally salvaged from a building up in SF decades ago -- I knew they would come in handy sometime...)

Step 5: Unload the firewood from the top of the truck.

Step 6: Make a nice little fire.

Step 7: Have a beverage.  Chat with passing neighbors who comment how much they love the smell of a wood fire.

Step 8: Friends arrive; con friend into doing the slimy part of getting the turkey onto the spit pole.

Step 9: Engage in complicated machinations to get the bird lined up correctly so the cross-brace knitting needles will go in and keep it from slipping.

Step 10: Turn the spit around...and around...and around....and around...  A 12 lb bird takes about 2 1/2 hours.

Step 11: Feast!  Then pack up and drive to the campground.

Step 12: Enjoy being outside at Arroyo Seco.

Step 13: Pack up and outrun Sunday's torrential rainstorm.

We hope everyone else had as enjoyable holiday!


Sometime, one just needs to make a Jingle Squid.  Or maybe others don't suffer these problems...

Photographic Difficulties

Usually, family pictures are difficult to take because of the kiddo, but sometimes it is Dad.
 He was eventually cooperative.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Yosemite Anniversary

An assortment of pictures for you all to enjoy, from our recent trip to Yosemite.

Lembert Dome, up near Tuolumne Meadows.  We hiked up this the first day to acclimatize to the elevation, so we would be ready for a big hike later in the weekend.

Good views from the top

Chad took lots of pictures

We also scoped out the likely conditions on Mt. Dana (just to the right of Chad's head), for later in the weekend.  It's just over 13,000 feet tall, and we wanted to make sure there wasn't too much snow on the side with the use trail.

We enjoyed the low-angle fall light on the granite,

and also the fall color.

We took plenty of time to play on the boulders.

Nothing too tall.  I find that I am much more conservative climbing outside, even with a crash pad, compared to in the gym with the super-squishy floor.

The crash pad made a nice cushion on which to picnic.

We did decide to attack Mt. Dana in the end.  This is the second-tallest mountain in the park, at just over 13,000 feet, and there is a decent (but unofficial) use trail up.  I previously climbed it almost 20 years ago, but Chad had never been up.

The beginning of the trail is benign, but then it heads up -- to the tune of over 3000 feet of climbing in less than 3 miles.  That's an average grade of over 20%, if you didn't automatically do the math.  At elevation.

We took lots to drink.  This is the view from roughly 11,200 feet.

As if it weren't already pretty spectacular, as we ascended, the views kept opening up.

There was a bit of snow, but not too much.  What was amusing was all the bear tracks.  I have no idea what the bear was doing on the top of a mountain that was little more that a giant pile of rubble.

We enjoyed the impressive cairns that help one find the route, such that it was.

Chad took the time to fix/add to the cairns as we went by.  (Note the summit behind him; at this point that was still more than 1000 feet above us.)

The view at this point back down towards the road at the top of Tioga Pass.  Still not at the top.

Proof that we were at the summit.  I'm pretty sure I'm in much better shape now than when I climbed it before, and enjoyed the fact that the elevation didn't cause any problems.

It was colder and windy up top -- note the extra layers.

360 degree views, including Mono Lake to the east,

and the snowy Sierra Crest.

Chilly happy peoples after hunkering behind some rocks to get out of the wind for lunch.  Happy Anniversary to us!

Middle School Fall Event Night

Friday evening, I did my parently duty and went to the first annual SMS Fall Celebration.  Oh joy.  A couple of things of note for you grandparents:

Nim playing in the band.  (She is the left-most kid in the front row, wearing a white shirt with a bacon-colored striped shirt underneath; click on the picture to blow it up if you need to.)

And the lovely kid with her teacher-nominated science award, which she refused to hold right-side-up.  "Mom, I only got it because I was the only kid to get a 5 [the top grade] on all the tests so far."

Camelbak Rat Destruction

I took a lovely mountain bike ride in the fog out at Skegg's earlier in the week.  Just gorgeous.  The misty wisps of fog and damp on every surface from the previous day's rainstorm made the forest seem most primeval.

However, when I got home, Chad pointed out that there was a small hole in the bottom of my camelbak.  

Darn it.  Some critter must have snuck up and marauded it while I stopped to have a snack, leaving a hole in the bag and nibbles on the emergency space blanket.  I would have thought I would have noticed, and wasn't stopped for that long.

Oh, well.  Time to Frankenstein-patch the bag.  (Tried to use sewing machine, but it was just too close to the back stiffener to work well.)

One would think that was the end of it.  I went to put the bag away.

Small shreddies everywhere under the wall where the backpacks are normally hung!  Shiny shreddies, fabric shreddies, plastic shreddies, metal shreddies!

???  Where did those come from?

Do you see something wrong with Chad's Camelbak too?

Look more closely:

Uh oh.  Maybe the evil critter was in our garage instead of the woods.  Could it be cats?

No.  Cats wouldn't chew through a plastic patch kit box.

Or into the tube of rubber cement for patching tires.  Ick.

I would think the adjacent food in the pack would be more appealing, but the evil vermin apparently just wanted the rubber cement.  I can understand why it didn't go for the disgusting macrobiotic vegan energy bar (inherited from a friend who decided they gave her migraines; now I'm stuck trying to eat them up), but the adjacent chocolate was also unmolested.

Silly rat.  Picture it acrobatically scaling the wall and trapezing from pack to pack in order to eat the space blanket and a tube of rubber cement.  Weird.

One hopes it crawled off and had a stomachache, never to return again, but I feel compelled to set a trap or two out.  But wait--the cats go in the garage, so any trap has to be complusively-curious-feline-proof.  Oh, that's hard.  While procrastinating that task, I decided to cull things from the overstuffed black file cabinet in the bottom left of the photo above so that the towering stack of papers that needed to be put in it would fit.

Four hours later, I emerged from that project.  What ever possessed me to save the complete set of Turbotax cd's from 1997 to the present?  Why is it that every house transaction leaves you with a giant stack of things printed on legal-sized paper that doesn't fit anywhere?  Ooooh -- the gory details of the move and corporate reimbursements from moving to AZ.  How much of that detritus does one really need to keep?  I culled heavily, but kindergarten report cards from 1976 are just too funny to throw out.

Still need to improvise cat-proof rat trap and fix one more pack...but it is time to make dinner.  Ugh.